Trooper shoots, kills man who slashed him with scissors in Westmoreland store
A state trooper fatally shot a 26-year-old man who slashed the officer with scissors during a confrontation at an East Huntingdon grocery store on Friday morning, police said.
The trooper, whom police have not identified, arrived at the Save a Lot store at Crossroads Plaza outside Mt. Pleasant and warned Seth W. O'Donnell, formerly of Scottdale, to drop the scissors, according to Trooper Stephen Limani of the Greensburg barracks.
After two physical altercations, the trooper used his Taser on O'Donnell, who slashed the trooper, broke free and tried to flee. The trooper then fired at O'Donnell, hitting him in the torso.
“After the suspect was shot, he got up and made it to the parking lot before he collapsed a few steps outside the store,” Limani said.
O'Donnell died in the parking lot.
The trooper is a 10-year veteran of the force whose wound required six stitches, Limani said.
A shopper in the store, Joyce Gales of Connellsville, described O'Donnell as a tall, thin man who was wearing a white cap with earflaps made of animal skin. He was standing near the checkout counter and started to drink a soda and eat snacks that he had not paid for, she said.
“The cashier told him if he was going to eat it, he had to pay for it,” Gales said.
Gales said the confrontation made her uncomfortable, and another clerk opened a second cash register to check her out.
Gales said she witnessed the slashing from the parking lot, and said she saw the trooper bleeding from the head.
Then she heard four shots.
Limani said the trooper who was dispatched to Save a Lot “engaged O'Donnell ... and attempted to calm him” when O'Donnell slashed him as he ran out the door. The trooper fired his weapon to protect himself, Limani said.
The Westmoreland County coroner's office pronounced O'Donnell dead in Excela Health Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant. An autopsy was scheduled for Friday night.
About 15 minutes before the shooting, troopers had been called to the Wal-Mart store about a half-mile away for an incident involving O'Donnell, Limani said.
“We received an initial call from Wal-Mart saying the man was in there acting violently with scissors, and he subsequently moved from that store to the Save a Lot,” Limani said. “There was an earlier confrontation where he threatened customers and employees with scissors.”
Police knew O'Donnell from previous incidents.
In August, O'Donnell was released from jail after serving six months for beating his mother and two others with a 3-pound mantle clock at the mother's East Huntingdon home on Feb. 24.
Judge Debra A. Pezze ordered O'Donnell to continue mental health treatment and to undergo drug and alcohol counseling as terms of his release.
O'Donnell pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of simple assault for attacking his mother, Tammy Tabaj, and Richard Kriger, both teachers at Southmoreland Elementary School. Neighbor Gertrude Pinskey, 83, was injured when she ran to help Tabaj.
Investigators remained at the Save a Lot for more than three hours after the shooting, interviewing witnesses and collecting spent shell casings and other evidence. The front windows were shattered as a result of the gunshots, and numerous evidence markers lay on the sidewalk.
“It's a sad situation when this kind of stuff happens,” Gales said. “You just can't believe it.”
Residents of the Mt. Pleasant Village Mobile Home Park near the Wal-Mart complex said O'Donnell had moved into a mobile home there last month. His neighbors, who declined to be identified, said O'Donnell acted strangely, pacing inside the mobile home for hours.
The day before his death, they said, he jumped through a plate-glass window to enter his home.
Broken glass and bloodstains still littered the window area on Friday.
The shopping plaza was the scene of another fatal shooting nearly 28 years ago.
Trooper Gary Fisher, 26, was killed on Feb. 3, 1985, during an undercover drug buy. Fisher accidentally shot himself with his service revolver as he attempted to arrest a suspect in the snow-covered parking lot. During a scuffle, Fisher slipped, and his weapon accidentally discharged.
Three suspects were charged with homicide, but forensic tests determined the shooting was accidental.
Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Friends, family, history lure natives back to Western Pennsylvania
- Crosby scores twice, Malkin delivers OT goal as Penguins beat Blues
- Steelers veteran linebacker Harrison focused on stretch run
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin ends practice with third-down work
- Penguins co-owner Lemieux snuffs rumored rift with Crosby
- Artis leads Pitt to lopsided victory over Cornell
- Pirates sign free agent 1B-OF Goebbert, RHP Webster
- Emotional send-off awaits Pitt seniors
- Keystone Bakery closes Greensburg store
- Teen charged with firing shots in Wilkins, abducting woman
- Puppies’ eyes glued shut, South Huntingdon animal shelter says